Zwelihle Renewal leader's bail application dismissed

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Zwelihle Renewal leader Gcobani Ndzongana in the Strand Magistrate's Court. (Christina Pitt, News24)
Zwelihle Renewal leader Gcobani Ndzongana in the Strand Magistrate's Court. (Christina Pitt, News24)

Zwelihle Renewal leader Gcobani Ndzongana still had pending charges of public violence and incitement against him when he was arrested on similar charges on July 11, the Strand Magistrate's Court heard on Friday.

These revelations were presented by the State during Ndzongana's bail application.

Despite claiming in a sworn affidavit that he was not aware of any pending charges, the State revealed that the accused had been released on a warning by the Hermanus Magistrate's Court on August 31, 2017.

Ndzongana's arrest on charges of incitement and malicious damage to property on July 11 was the catalyst for the violent protests in the Hermanus area earlier this month.

READ: Arrested Zwelihle protest leader is a correctional services officer, court hears

His lawyer Thulasizwe Twalo had to prove exceptional circumstances for Ndzongana's release, given the fact that damage to infrastructure is a Schedule 6 offence.

The State presented screenshots of Ndzongana's Facebook posts, which allegedly called on residents to dismantle a fence that had been erected by the Overstrand Municipality.

According to Ndzongana's posts, Zwelihle residents viewed the fence as a form of segregation of the black and white communities in Hermanus.

The State also played a video clip that places Ndzongana at the scene when the fence was dismantled.

The video shows the accused alongside a large crowd, clapping his hands as the fence falls.

The evidence bolstered the State's argument that, while Ndzongana may not be a flight risk, he was a threat to public safety.

Twalo said that his client could not be a threat to the community, as members of the Zwelihle community were present in court and supported his release.

'Our country simply cannot afford the destruction of infrastructure'

Nonetheless, Magistrate Franselien Mouton found that the accused had failed to show exceptional circumstances for his release.

"The accused is a leader in the community, and I encourage such leadership, but one must do so orderly," she said.

"There are a number of legal remedies to resolve disputes with the municipality. Our country simply cannot afford the destruction of infrastructure."

Mouton found that the State had a strong prima facie case against the accused.

READ MORE: Policeman severely assaulted, robbed in volatile Hermanus

Members of the Zwelihle community appeared unsurprised when Ndzongana's bail application was dismissed.

Another Zwelihle Renewal leader Sicelo Gxamesi said that the community had prepared for the worst.

"We knew Gcobani's case was going to be difficult," he said.

"We are not happy with the outcome, but we will continue to support him."

Gcobani will make his next appearance on August 1.

His colleague Theron Mqhu will also make an appearance in the Hermanus Magistrate's Court on charges of public violence and attempted murder.

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